January 28, 2020
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    Iran plane crash: Ukraine International Airline jet crashes killing 176

    January 08, 2020

    A Ukrainian Boeing-737 carrying 176 people has crashed in Iran and officials say there is no chance of finding survivors. Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 to Kyiv went down after taking off from Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran at 06:12 local time (02:42 GMT).The majority of passengers were from Iran and Canada. Ukraine's Tehran embassy initially blamed engine failure but later removed the statement. It said any comment regarding the cause of the accident prior to a commission's inquiry was not official. Iranian media blamed technical problems and quoted an aviation who said no emergency had been declared. Debris and engine parts from the plane were found some 10km (6 miles) from the airport and rescue workers with face masks searched the wreckage for victims.
    Who was on board? Among the victims were 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians including all nine crew, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Britons and three Germans, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said. It was unclear why such a large number of Canadians were on board, however the airline provides relatively inexpensive flights via Kyiv to Iran. Sweden's foreign ministry said its embassy in Tehran was seeking further information about the crash. Foreign Minister Ann Linde said she had spoken to Mr Prystaiko. Three British nationals among dead in plane crash President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was cutting short a trip to Oman and flying back to Kyiv. He warned against "speculation or unchecked theories regarding the catastrophe" until official reports were ready.
    "My sincere condolences to the relatives and friends of all passengers and crew," he said in a statement.Ukraine International Airlines has suspended flights to Tehran indefinitely. The airline said that the Boeing 737-800 was built in 2016 and had its last scheduled maintenance on Monday.There was no sign of any problems with the plane before take-off and the airline's president said it had an "excellent, reliable crew". UIA has never had a fatal crash before.Mr Zelensky said Ukraine's entire civil aviation fleet would be checked for airworthiness and criminal proceedings would be opened into the disaster.There are reportedly no survivors in the crash
    Rescue teams have been sent to the crash site but the head of Iran's Red Crescent told state media that it was "impossible" for anyone to have survived the crash.Rescue workers had found one of the airliner's black boxes, Iranian media reported.Ukraine has organised special planes to fly to Iran to take back the bodies of those killed, pending Iran's agreement, Mr Zelensky said.
    Aviation safety analyst Todd Curtis told the BBC that the Boeing aircraft involved in the crash had been delivered new to the airline."The airplane was heavily fragmented which means either there was an intense impact on the ground or something happened in the sky," he said."From all appearances this was an airplane that had been properly cared for and there were no outstanding issues with respect to European authorities or American authorities so at this point there is nothing that points to a particular cause."
    Mr Curtis said Iranian, Ukrainian, US and French authorities would all be involved in the investigation, but it was unclear how they would work together. Iran is currently under US sanctions and there are severe tensions between the two countries."They will start putting together the story of what happened on that airplane... to see if there is something about the condition of the aircraft or the fuel on board that might have led to this," he said."And also one cannot discount the possibility that something outside the aircraft, a mid-air collision or some other issue, may have been involved."
    There are several thousand Boeing 737-800s in operation around the world which have completed tens of millions of flights. They have been involved in 10 incidents, including this crash, where at least one passenger was killed, Mr Curtis said.This is the first time a Ukraine International Airlines plane has been involved in a fatal crash.

    Iran attack: US troops targeted with ballistic missiles
    11 minutes ago
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    Media captionThis footage, reportedly of the missile attack, was shown on Iranian state TV
    Iran has carried out a ballistic missile attack on air bases housing US forces in Iraq, in retaliation for the US killing of General Qasem Soleimani.

    More than a dozen missiles launched from Iran struck two air bases in Irbil and Al Asad, west of Baghdad.

    It is unclear if there have been any casualties.

    The initial response from Washington has been muted. President Trump tweeted that all was well and said casualties and damage were being assessed.

    LIVE: Latest reaction and analysis
    Crude oil prices jump after missile attacks
    Two Iraqi bases housing US and coalition troops were targeted - one at Al Asad and one in Irbil at about 2:00am local time (10.30pm GMT), just hours after the burial of Soleimani.

    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said the attack was "a slap in the face" for the US and called for and end to the US presence in the region.

    Echoing him, President Hassan Rouhani said the US would have its "feet cut off" in the Middle East.

    Hours after the air strikes a Ukrainian airliner crashed in Iran shortly after take-off. Ukraine's Tehran embassy initially blamed engine failure but later removed the statement.

    Several airlines have suspended flights to Iran and Iraq amid the rising tension.

    Is this the end of the escalation?
    This is the most direct assault by Iran on the US since the seizing of the US embassy in Tehran in 1979.

    Iran's Revolutionary Guards said the attack was in retaliation for the death of Soleimani on Friday - killed in a missile strike outside Baghdad airport on the orders of President Trump - and warned US allies that their bases could also be targeted.

    Iran's Defence Minister Amir Hatami said Iran's response to any US retaliation would be proportional to the US action.

    But Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the attack was self-defence and denied seeking to escalate the situation into war.

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    Javad Zarif

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    Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched.

    We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.

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    The BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen in Baghdad says the tweets appear to suggest that Iran wishes to draw a line under its retaliation for the assassination of Soleimani and is putting the onus on the US as to whether the situation escalates.

    The end of retaliation... for now?
    Jonathan Marcus, BBC defence and diplomatic correspondent

    Given the significance of General Soleimani and the passions that his killing aroused - Iran's military strike against US bases in Iraq was a modest response.

    The attack was clearly timed to cause as few casualties as possible. Both the US and Iran - for all their rhetoric - do not want a wider conflict. So maybe a line can be drawn under this matter for now.

    Is this the end of Iran's retaliation? Time will tell.

    But it is hard to see Iranian policy changing. It is presumably still going to try to secure its regional goals, not least the departure of US forces from Iraq.

    The Soleimani killing has weakened the US position there. But it was rocket attacks from Iran's proxies - local Shia militia - against US bases that formed the prelude to this recent crisis.

    Has the US established any measure of deterrence? And if not, will Iranian-inspired attacks resume in due course?

    What is the status of US troops in Iraq?
    The US has around 5,000 troops in Iraq tasked with preventing a resurgence of the Islamic State group (IS) there.

    President Trump said on Tuesday a US withdrawal of troops from Iraq would be the worst thing for the country.

    Which bases were targeted?
    Foreign secretary condemns Iran missile strikes
    His comments came in the wake of a letter, which the US military said had been sent in error, to Iraq's prime minister, which suggested that the US would be "repositioning" forces in the country.

    The UK foreign office told the BBC: "We are urgently working to establish the facts on the ground. Our first priority is the security of British personnel." The UK has put the Royal Navy and military helicopters on standby amid rising tensions in the Middle East, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said earlier.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Israel would strike back hard against any attack and said President Trump should be congratulated for acting "swiftly, boldly and resolutely" in assassinating Soleimani.

    Iran attack: Oil prices rise after Iraq missile attacks
    4 hours ago
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    Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
    Oil prices have risen after two bases hosting US troops in Iraq were hit by ballistic missiles.

    Brent crude was up by 1.4% at $69.21 per barrel in the middle of the Asian trade, easing back from earlier gains.

    So-called safe haven assets, like gold and the Japanese yen, also rose on the news.

    At the same time global stock prices were sent lower on concerns over the growing conflict in the Middle East.

    Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index fell by 1.3%, and Hang Seng in Hong Kong was down 0.8%.

    Iranian state television said the attack was a retaliation for the killing of the country's top commander Qasem Soleimani.

    US airbases in Iraq hit by ballistic missiles
    The US, Iran and Soleimani story explained
    What is Trump's strategy on Iran?
    The attack happened just hours after the funeral service for Soleimani, who was killed by a US drone strike on Friday.

    His death had raised concerns that the conflict between the US and Iran could escalate further.

     

    That could disrupt shipping in the world's busiest sea route for oil, the Strait of Hormuz. Around a fifth of global oil supply passes through the strait which connects the Gulf with the Arabian Sea.

    The Strait of Hormuz is vital for the main oil exporters in the Gulf region - Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the UAE, and Kuwait - whose economies are built around oil and gas production. Iran also relies heavily on this route for its oil exports.

    Qatar, the world's biggest producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), exports nearly all its gas through the strait.

    After the latest attacks, the US aviation regulator banned American airlines from flying over Iraq, Iran and neighbouring countries. The ban includes the Gulf of Oman and the waters between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

    The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said the decision was in response to heightened military activity, and increased political tension in the region.

    Before the latest guidance, the FAA had already prohibited US airlines from flying below 26,000 feet (7,925 metres) over Iraq and from flying over an area of Iranian airspace above the Gulf of Oman since Iran shot down an American drone in June 2019.

    At the same time Singapore Airlines has said that all of its flights would now be diverted from Iranian airspace.

     

     

     

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